Erin Mallory Long is the woman behind the hilarious HelloGiggles column Five Ways Something Ruined My Life, where she writes about things we all know and love, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Groundhog Day, and Friends Thanksgiving episodes. She was nice enough to answer my nosy questions about her work process, her inspirations, and her Creative Lady role model. You can find Erin at her website and on Twitter @erinmallorylong.
What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.
I usually work in TV but am between jobs right now which is the fancy way of saying unemployed but spending my days writing. I don’t get paid for ALL the writing I do but I’m focusing on changing that and being grateful that I can get by without going to an office every day for the time being. A normal day for me right now is getting up, having tea and cereal with my husband before he goes to work, then staying in the apartment all day with my To Do list or going to Starbucks to try to bang some stuff out. My weekly column on Hello Giggles – since it’s just about my obsessions with TV or movies – is something that I can get done while sitting at Starbucks and is pretty easy to focus on there. Sometimes if I’m working on a script I’d rather be surrounded by my stuff in my own space.
What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?
I like going on hikes now that I live in Los Angeles. If I’m stuck on something it usually helps to go on a hike and kind of just be with your thoughts. Also, Runyon in particular offers some pretty great sound bites to overhear (think typical L.A. stuff so everyone’s talking about their manager or money or something they’re producing).
What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.
I think everything inspires me? Is that a cop out? Sort of. But I think it’s true. I’m taking a sketch writing class right now so I have all these different kinds of writing I’m working on every week and I think it helps to pull from everywhere.
In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.
“Adult Childlike Tendencies” is the best way to describe me and how I think. Also could be a cool emo band name, or something. Or maybe just the name of a hip new disorder which they’ll hopefully first diagnose in me.
I think sometimes because of how I dress myself or what things I like people think that I’m immature but aside from ridiculous things I laugh at like signs for “Bonerville” I’m still a 29-year-old adult woman. Also I’m a Virgo so I’m very organized which helps in being an “adult.”
How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?
It involves a lot of staring into space and singing along to music and posting pictures to Instagram and tweeting and then some writing. When I was writing the first TV pilot I took a shot at I would stare at the computer for hours, tweeting and taking selfies and then something would happen and I’d write for an hour. And then I’d go back to staring into space. It helps that I love To Do lists and think the greatest feeling in the world is checking something off. So if I write down “finish Act 1” I will make sure to do it. It just might take a lot of staring into space and watching episodes of “Wings” on Netflix.
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?
That’s a great question! I think I’m most proud that I finished a TV pilot alone. Like, I came up with a thought (somehow) and sat down and just from within myself made it happen. Like no one was telling me, “gee Erin you should write this” I had to come up with the motivation myself and it’s something I struggled with and why I didn’t start writing publicly for a long time. But I also really like this article I wrote for Cracked called “7 Saved By the Bell Plots That Prove Zack is a Sociopath.” It was really fun to be that – pardon the phrase – snarky. While also proving that Zack Morris is a sociopath.
Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?
Lake Bell. I saw In A World and just was like, god, she’s amazing. There was a Q&A after the screening with her and she just seemed so genuine and so smart. And aside from Children’s Hospital I only knew her from It’s Complicated before that so I didn’t know much of anything about her. And to be able to write and star in and direct this movie that I thought was so great, I just was so in awe of her. And she talked about how you know, she was acting, so it wasn’t like she NEEDED to write this or anyone was like GIVE ME THIS SCRIPT. It was just a story she wanted to tell and something she wanted to create and like, she’s my number 1 Person I Am in Awe of and Want to Be Friends With right now.
What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I am more a morning person than anything else but I usually get most done from like, 5pm-8pm, if that makes sense (spoiler alert, it makes no sense). I drag my feet sometimes on things I know I could finish quickly so if it gets to that time of day I just tell myself, “write this, then you can have dinner.” And that usually does the trick.
Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?
Mostly watch TV, go to the movies. I notice I start getting a little antsy if I don’t go to the movies frequently enough. I need that time where you silence your phone and just sit back and go to another place. It’s great as a stress-reducer because even if the movie is stressful, it’s not about you. It’s not your life. It’s the best escape I have. I also just like doing goofball things with my friends like Country & Western night roller skating or sitting at a bar talking. Also, if there were costume parties I could go to all the time I would be ecstatic. But broke. Also I like to cross-stitch. It’s organized and pretty and I find it disgustingly soothing.
What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?
I’m reading “How to Be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran right now and am obsessing over it. I love it so much. I know everyone read “Gone Girl” a couple summers ago but you should also read Gillian Flynn’s other books “Dark Places” and “Sharp Objects.” So amazing. I also just read two Jonathan Ames books “I Love You More Than You Know” and “What’s Not to Love?: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer.” Reading about his inner thoughts is fascinating and disturbing. Oh and also “Trinkets” by Kirsten Smith is really great.
What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?
I feel like my biggest problem was feeling somewhere inside me that I wanted to write but not doing it. Everything kind of snowballs so if you can make yourself try something you think you want to try you’ll get into the thing you want to do. If you want to write. Write. I mean, I know that’s so cliché but just recently I told someone to just start with journal entries and see how those go. I’m the idiot who knew I wanted to write but was too nervous about trying it to do anything about it until I just had to. So don’t be that idiot.
What’s your Creative Lady motto?
I’m going to take something Susie Essman said to my brother’s college graduating class at SUNY Purchase in 2011 for this, “Be bold and be kind and you’ll be okay.”